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Aug 29, 2009 10:34 AM

Delaney's: New Food and Better Vibe. Good food in the "Westville" area of New Haven, CT

I have been waiting for the long needed refurbishing of Delaney's Tap Room. As was noted in February, they weren't always on the mark with dinners. Their food has been steadily getting better, with the able guidance of Jeff, the hands-on manager. Still, as I drove by, the exterior looked unkempt. I remembered the tattered booths...
While the bar area, where you can play darts or pool, is rough and unchanged (and I like its feel), the rest has been transformed. All the booths are redone. Interior changes are relatively minor, but everything has a new coat of paint! There's art on the walls. I'm not sure about the corrugated zinc coated steel, rooofing material partitions, but they are trying to be cool. Outside, they have quite a bit of seating. I'm still reluctant to sit out there because I believe it is all designated as a smoking area. Too bad. They could have one end, or a few tables, designated as non-smoking.
On to the food and drink. They have an astounding list of beverages! They have incredible beers and an impressive wine list that any restaurant would be proud of. Some of you may know that Delaney's throws an annual chili cookoff. I wished they served chili... Anyway, the owner seems open to innovation and has an interest in good wine and food. He wants to serve more upscale food far beyond typical bar food. Enter, Jeff. It should be noted that I know Jeff on a casual basis. I have run into him before. One place was Bin 100.
Of the two managers, Jeff has been very involved in the kitchen with helping create new menu items. A blackened tilapia fish sandwich, eggplant rolatini and pork ribs are a few. I sampled one of the ribs and it was not half bad. Slow cooked for many hours, I think most people will find them excellent. I also tried some chipotle in adobo barbeque sauce with my fish sandwich and the rib. This was really good stuff, but just a tad sweet for my liking. Still a very good addition to almost any meat and very unusual. The fish sandwich and sweet, succulent and soft plantains were both very good. These were accompanied by a spicy dressing on the side. This was really good with the plantains even though they didn't need any help..
We had two dinners here since we were attending the Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament. SO, on her first outing had the three bean taco salad. I guess they are what they are, but ground taco meat with lots of sour cream and cheese doesn't do it for me (or SO, it turns out). Thank God it didn't have horrid canned black olives in it! Later she said, "What was I thinking?". I would say it is just a notch above average, all American, taco salad. We had a wonderful Crios Malbec and a hoppy ale Jeff recommended with the fish.
The next evening Jeff was off. SO had a blackened chicken sandwich and I had a rare Argentinian ribeye. With this we had eggplant rolatini an wonderful dish of eggplant in a flavorful tomato sauce. Everything was delicious. The side salad was fresh and crisp. I thought the eggplant was on the al dente side of perfection.
The service was good and the prices are very modest. Wine prices are very fair. We eve got our paper-topped table crummed!
I say without hesitation that Delaney's has come a long way. Put aside your reservations or preconceived notions and try it! They are really hitting the mark in most areas and the number of people dining there is proof enough.
Even in the well-worn bar you can get any item on the menu! So come sleazy or greasy to the neighborhood bar and still have wonderful food with wonderful spirits.
Delaney's Tap Room, 882 Whalley Avenue, New Haven, CT 06515, the "Westville area", (203) 397-5494

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  1. I thought I'd mention that we've been back to Delaney's a number of times since I started this thread. Delaney’s is a nice, comfortable neighborhood bar and restaurant. It probably has the best selection of draft beers in the state, not to mention the bottled beers and wine.
    They try, bless their hearts, to be very creative and unusual with some of their “specials”. Usually they do quite well and seem to be steadily improving their menu. It is quite good.
    I had a duck confit with carmelized onions on flatbread appetizer. It was good, but was overwhelmed with a keycap manis and ? reduction that dressed the bread. Very strong and somewhat sweet.
    My son had a very good wet aged steak and SO had a buffalo chicken wrap. We love the sweet potato fries and the spicy or "blackened dishes like the chicken and tilapia.
    We all had a great meal there... and you can draw on the table! Service was good. They were doing a good business on the Saturday night we were there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Scargod

      I was just thinking of posting about Delaney's after a meal there this week. Thanks for getting it started. I do think this is a very good neighborhood restaurant and bar, offering a good food at a good value. But you do have to order carefully to get Delaney's at its best.

      We usually go to Delaney's during the week, on one of those nights when we don't feel like cooking. We can walk there from our house.

      We usually gravitate toward the burgers, salads and sandwiches, most which are priced at under $10 and feature very fresh and well-prepared ingredients. The Delaney Salad is a favorite of mine, made with roasted turkey, not deli turkey, and a nice green mixture and other veggies. The Harvest Salad is a close second, featuring grilled marinated chicken breast, craisins and bleu cheese.

      For sandwiches, the turkey is excellent, as well as the French dip, reuben and steak sandwich. The burgers are always good and cooked correctly to temperature. The onion rings are the best I've had in New Haven, and the sweet potato fries are also amazing - they manage to be crisp, not soggy as I've had elsewhere.

      The entrees, however, are a mixed bag. The turkey dinner is very good in a traditional kind of way, and the penne alla vodka's very tasty. I also like the apricot salmon, and my husband likes the mac and cheese with proscuitto. All entrees come with a generous side salad.

      But other entrees have disappointed. The tuna special this week was not good at all - it was a thin-cut, flavorless tuna steak. Sometimes the ambition does not live up to the taste buds, but I am glad to see them trying. The stir-fry and pork have also been blah.

      I'm not much of a beer drinker, but Delaney's does offer a huge variety on tap and in bottles. It also has a well-stocked bar, but we careful - some drinks are pretty pricey.

    2. Been a fan for YEARS...but...mainly due to the beer taps. Good to hear they've revamped the food.

      BTW, if you want to try some of the best chicken wings in the area go across the street to New West Cafe. I $hit you not.